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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Do the minions that prop up a dictator or czar, etc. want the perks of power a dictator has but not the authority?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26821points) April 4th, 2015

Any king, dictator, czar, etc. is only one person. If it were some tribal society the one strongest to beat 50% of the others physically and intimidate the remaining 50% got to lead. When you talking about hundreds of thousands to millions of people, one person needs a number of lackeys to do their bidding and be their muscle. These lackeys, the minions who place themselves under the autocrat what is their motivation? Many are willing to die for this leader and carry out ruthless policies of the autocrat, should anything go south, they can say it wasn’t them but the autocrat they are under. Is it because they are intimidated even if they are on very friendly terms with the dictator, or they like the secondary power and fame riding the coat tails of the dictator?

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8 Answers

jerv's avatar

Generally, yes.

That is why smart people avoid high office. I mean, in the comics, Lex Luthor considered being President of the United States a demotion compared to his overt power as CEO of LexCorp and his considerable covert power. Art imitates life there.

Look at how many people despise G.W. Bush despite the fact that many of the policies he is demonized for are ones he personally didn’t like but either his advisors or Cheney pushed for. Why make yourself a target when you can have all of the perks without most of the risks?

Zaku's avatar

Um, interesting conception of things. A leader inspires others to want him to be their leader. Many people don’t want to be the leader, for a variety of reasons.

In a “dictator” situation, generally someone has taken full nominal power by coup or revolution or other aggressive action which involves leading a group of aggressive supporters. No one without such supporters would likely become dictator in such circumstances – they had to be a charismatic and/or formidable/terrifying leader of some sort. So yes, your reasons of intimidation and cronyism are likely there. Others may follow to stay on the winning side, or out of fear, or to gain some other advantage, or perhaps because they prefer this new leader and his group to whoever was there before, or whoever they fear might take power otherwise, or perhaps they just prefer some authority to chaos.

If some lackey/minion decides to seize power for themself, they either fail, or succeed and become the new dictator, which has also happened.

As for being willing to die for him, that may either be that the leader is very charismatic, or peers have indoctrinated people, and/or it may be that they fear that being/appearing very loyal is their best chance for survival and prosperity (which it may be if the dictator is paranoid and the most dangerous person around).

(Actual tribal societies don’t generally select leaders by physical strength and intimidation, BTW. Czars have specific histories but I don’t think you literally mean them.)

cazzie's avatar

They tend to follow their leaders religiously.

flutherother's avatar

Dictators survive by spying on their own followers and establishing competing circles of power all falling over each other to do the leader’s bidding. Dissent is not acceptable and results in dismissal or death. While the perks may be nice it is mostly fear that keeps the regime going, even the dictator himself is afraid.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Minions: A definition is necessary. There are minions and there are henchmen or hatchet men. Minions I suppose are the lesser demons and under less sinister regimes are referred to as bureaucrats. And more often than not, the minions don’t place themselves at the disposal of the tyrant. They are in place when he arrives, and they will be there when he leaves. The smart tyrant, leader, whatever, wants competence and efficiency. Hitler and Roosevelt both want the mail delivered on time and the sewers maintained.

kritiper's avatar

They want the protection that ruler provides from that same ruler!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Zaku If some lackey/minion decides to seize power for themself, they either fail, or succeed and become the new dictator, which has also happened.
Would that not mean a minion would have to have layers of minions under him/her? For instance you have egomaniac autocrat, right-hand lackey wants to take him down because maybe he feels a purge coming and his relationship with the autocrat is souring. Right-hand lackey has a very good relationship with the defense minister. He convinces the defense minister a purge is coming and it is a very good chance his head is on the chopping block. The defense minister will have to have loyal lackeys willing to risk their lives to do a coup, or some other action to take down the autocrat. Even though right-hand lackey might want to take out egomaniac autocrat, he needs his own minions to do it. Whether they follow him because they hate the sitting autocrat, hope they will move up in status or power under the new autocrat they help instill, or fear if they don’t and the new autocrat prevails he might seek retribution on those who said “no”, these lackeys ere needed to carry out the plan.

Zaku's avatar

In order to take over from a dictator, yes you need to be able to survive and quickly establish yourself as the new leader, which is generally best done by securing other people first, and as you suggest, it’s best if the people you can trust to support you, also have the loyalty of as many others as possible, preferably people useful in a coup such as soldiers etc.

In the situation you describe, if the current dictator is disliked and seems to be overly dangerous, then his minions will tend to talk to each other about it, and these problems can form the basis for such conspiracies to replace him. So as dictator, one needs to ensure that the fear one projects is such that people don’t dare act against you, and they feel safer being your allies, and that conspiring against you seems extremely likely to fail disastrously.

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